Last time I checked, the Lonely Planet’s info on getting an Indonesian visa in East Timor was slightly out-of-date, and missing a little information, so I figured having just been through the experience it might be useful to explain the process to anyone wanting to do the same. Regular readers, move along swiftly, there’s nothing to see here. Normal posting will resume shortly.
Whether like me you’ve fallen foul of the fact Indonesia only gives a 30 day visa on arrival (which really isn’t long enough for a country that big), or whether your 60 day visa has expired, or if you’re flying into Dili from Darwin or Singapore, it’s pretty straightforward to get an Indonesian visa at their embassy in the East Timorese capital. And the good news is it seems to be pretty easy to get a 60 day one too.
Here’s how it all works:
Before you head down to the embassy, you’ll need a passport photo taken with a RED background (no, I don’t know why either), a photocopy of your passport, and a letter explaining how long you want the visa for (30 or 60 days) and a rough outline of what you plan to do. Apparently this can be handwritten, but it’s probably safer to type one up. All of these can easily be sorted in Dili if you don’t have them before you arrive in the country.
Get up early
The embassy may open its doors at 8.30am, but that doesn’t mean that’s when you should turn up. They only process about fifty a day, and considering there’s lots of East Timorese people applying as well, this means you should really get into the queue at the front gate at around 6am (which is what I did, and I was 14th in the queue).
Fill in your forms
While you wait for the doors to open, a security guard will pass you the forms through the gate, which you need to fill in with a BLACK pen (again, don’t know why, but make sure you do or you’ll just have to fill it in again). You also need to glue your photo to the form. The guards have glue.
…until the doors open at 8.30am. You’ll be let in one at a time to see a person who checks you have everything you need, and that you’ve filled in your form. He then gives you a number and then you get back in the a queue, this time inside, and wait for the person behind the counter to call your number. The person behind the counter checks all your forms, takes your $45 (for 30 or 60 days), and your passport, and gives you a receipt and tells you to come back in three working days later (not the five that the Lonely Planet suggests; however double check on this locally as it may change again). Watch out for East Timorese and Indonesian public holidays (there are quite a few of both) as the embassy closes for both sets.
Go and explore East Timor
There’s lots to see.
Return after three days
…and hopefully it’ll be ready. The office is open for collections at 3pm.
Bear in mind if you’ve already had an Indonesian visa and you’re running low on pages, they won’t stick the new one over the old one, but will use another whole page for it. Lovely.